How To Spot a Rising Star

Whether you’re a seasoned collector or a first time buyer, purchasing art can feel daunting if you’re looking for an artist whose work will stand the test of time. 

Whether you’re a seasoned collector or a first time buyer, purchasing art can feel daunting if you’re looking for an artist whose work will stand the test of time. Buying art is an incredibly personal thing, and collectors have different goals. For some, the experience or emotions a piece of art evokes is the most important, for others it could be purely on the aesthetic, like the colour or the subject matter, alternatively you may be solely looking for a sound investment that promises a reasonable return on investment in the future. 

Regardless of your motive behind purchasing art, there is often one concern on people’s mind, even if only partially: Is this a sound investment? If you’re wondering about this issue in a broader sense, you should definitely read last week’s blog all about investment in art. This week, however, we’re going to focus on one key aspect that can help educate your decision: How to spot a rising star.

In a similar way to purchasing stock, the key to ensuring a higher return on your investment in art is to get in there early before prices sky rocket. And, although purchasing art is a massively safer investment than the stock exchange, using the same concept of estimating an artist’s success (resulting in increased value in your piece or artwork) is imperative if your purchase is mainly for investment purposes. We’ve gathered a few key tips to consider when you’re trying to spot that rising star, without all the jargon!

Is the artist represented?

Comparative to a football team being sponsored, if an artist is represented by a gallery it means there is a driving force behind them. Their representative gallery will not only be investing time and funds into selling this artist’s work, but will also present the artist with other opportunities to develop their work and career. An endorsement of a gallery into an artist is an excellent indicator as to the potential value they and their work may promise. Essentially, if a gallery supports an artist, you can find comfort in doing the same.

Does the artist have press coverage?

It feels like everyone in the modern age has some form of social media profile, and the same goes for artists; most, if not all, utilise these platforms to increase awareness and sales of their work. However, what really sets promising artists apart from the thousands with an Instagram account is press coverage. Similarly to a gallery endorsing an artist, publications, news channels or magazines, for example, obviously aim to keep a stable accreditation as well as engaging their audience. It’s therefore safe to assume that a media outlet or similar press company would not feature any run-of-the-mill artist who poses little to no potential - this wouldn’t keep their readers interested. The more present an artist becomes in these kinds of outlets, the more popular their work becomes at that given time.

How available is their work?

The availability of an artist’s work can also influence the value of their pieces. If an artist’s work is difficult to come by, their work becomes more expensive as the limited availability offers a more exclusive portfolio. Furthermore, should an artist cease creating work either through retirement or should they pass away, their work will also significantly increase in value as the current work in circulation becomes limited.

Does the artist have awards and accolades?

Similarly to retaining press coverage, an artist’s ability to continue winning awards or other accolades is key to continue their exposure to the public. Entry to awards exhibits the artist’s continued devotion to push the boundaries of their work, which essentially promotes the assurance that they are continually developing their professional practice. With the artist’s avoidance of allowing their work to become stagnant or insignificant, you can rest assured that their prominence will likely continue, if not further develop.

Moreover, should the artist be awarded special recognition by external organisations and groups, or commissioned by such, a keen interest from specialists in the arts further solidifies the artist’s prominence and serves as an indication for future success. 

Stephen Johnston, for example, was commissioned by Queen’s University, Belfast, for their ‘Great Hall Portraits.' The piece now sits in their permanent collection.

How do I research this?

We realise this can be a lot of information to throw at you if you’re just starting out. Yes, considering artworks, researching artists and seeking out works within your budget can be incredibly time consuming. 

One of the easiest ways to gather as much information as possible is to access a gallery website who carries, or has previously carried, the artist’s work. There are pages available that provide potential clients with key information regarding the artist practice and available pieces that are curated especially to help you with your decision.

You could also access the artist’s website. Most have an ‘About’ page detailing the artist’s life and location. Good artists will also include lists of exhibitions, awards and commissions they have participated in. Think, if they can boast about their work, why would they not include the information to prospective collectors of their work?

Don’t forget, here at Hancock Gallery we have a team of experienced experts to help guide you through the process of buying art. We have appointments available for telephone, video chat and even home visits to discuss your vision and answer any questions you may have.

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